Well. I have to say that I am well and truly ticked off. I wrote the entire post, hit publish and then Blogger threw up an error and ate the majority of the post, and now all that is left of my hard work are the words "This month's chal". Grr *shakes fist*
I had a really good post worked up, too, if I do say so myself. And I can't really remember what I wrote, but I know I was on a roll and that it was awesome. Sigh.
Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi of fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew originating from the Burgundy region of France.
This month's challenge was Boeuf Bourguignon (aka Beef Burgandy), first popularised by Julia Childs. This recipe is the very same one that Julie messed up in the movie Julie and Julia. For anyone not familiar with the movie, blogger Julie decides to cook and blog her way through Julia Child's The Art of French Cooking and makes a colossal mess of her life (and kitchen) along the way. At the time I first saw the movie I was not a blogger and so I didn't understand how what she was doing could possibly be so hard and invade her life so much.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Foolish Nessie!
Obviously I have since discovered what a time-consuming practice blogging can be. I love doing it, but sometimes I freak out a little because I haven't posted in a while, and sometimes I go on a posting spree and spend an afternoon (or more) scheduling posts to cover me for the next few weeks. Sometimes I don't participate in a Daring Cooks challenge because I'm just too busy, or I do what I did last month - go to the effort of making the meal but never getting around to blogging about it.
Also take into account the fact that poor Julie had committed to cooking every single recipe in the book over the period of a year, and that there were more than 365 recipes in there, which meant that she was cooking more than one French meal each day. And don't get me started on the fact that the actress who played her didn't appear to gain any weight over that year!!!
I nearly did what Julie did - dry the entire thing out and burn it - but I caught it in time, added a heap of water and turned the heat down so that it simmered instead of rapidly bubbling away. You, too, should be careful not to be distracted by something shiny or, in Julie's case, fall asleep on the couch!
First up, bacon. The smell of bacon makes my heart sing with gladness.
Until you more or less render it, at which point it stimulates my upchuck reflex.
But frying it afterwards makes me happy again.
And a word of warning - they weren't mucking about when they gave the instruction to carefully dry the bacon after rendering it. There's a piece of bacon in the above picture that is actually mid-air as it leapt out of the pan and spattered oil and fat at me as the water on it boiled. It's a bit hard to see, but it's one near the middle of the pan. Scary stuff!
Peeling this many onions will annoy you - curse the French and their teensy, tiny, delicious onions! *shakes fist*
But the flavour, once boiled in beef stock, is truly divine. As is the flavour of mushrooms sauteed in butter.
And no, not all of this collection of delciousness made it to the casserole. Why do you ask? :)
This dish was amazing, if time-consuming, and I'm really glad I had the opportunity to make it. It teaches you a few things about method, which I like in a recipe, and allows you to think about what you could do differently next time. In my case, that will involve browning the meat and veg and dumping them in a crock pot with a bottle of plonk! I'd still do the onions and mushrooms the same and add them later, but I didn't feel like I could just walk away from it all like you can with a crock pot, and that made me somewhat less than relaxed.
My mouth is watering just looking at that picture. Some sort of piping hot casserole with mashed potato and green beans is one of my favourite combinations of food EVER. After corned beef with mash, peas and arrots. And maybe after sausages in onion gravy with mash, beans and carrots. What can I say - I like home-style food. But I'm not 100% sure about the sausages being in second place because this one was pretty freakin' spectacular...
Recipe that follows as written by Fabi:
- 1 large Dutch oven/Cocotte/Cast iron casserole, or an oven proof dish, possibly lidded, otherwise a double piece of aluminium foil will do the trick.
- 1 sauce pan
- 1 cutting board
- Measuring cups and spoons
BOEUF BOURGUIGNONIngredients for 6 people:
1 x 6 oz (200 gm) chunk of streaky bacon
3 pounds (1⅓ kg) stewing beef cut into 2 inches (5 cm) cubes
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
½ teaspoon (5 ml) (2 gm) pepper
3 tablespoons (45 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) flour
3 cups (1½ pint/720 ml) of young red wine. Suggestions: Bourgogne, of course, but also Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Rioja etc., depending on your country and your taste. Being Spanish, my choice this time was a good Rioja. It really has to be a good one but it hasn’t necessarily to be a very expensive one, you know, il ne faut pas exagérer
1 carrot, sliced (I prefer to cut it into chunks, but that's just my taste)
1 onion, sliced in julienne
1 ½ to 2 cups (¾ to 1 pint/355 to 475 ml) of beef stock or beef bouillon
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz/15 gm) tomato paste or tomato puree
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (1 gm) thyme leaves
1 bay leave (Julia says it has to be crushed, I prefer not to crush it so that I can remove it at the end of the process)
The blanched bacon rind
18-24 small onions, brown-braised in stock
1 pound (½ kg) mushrooms sautéed in butter (Champignons are perfect for this purpose)
Fresh parsley sprigs to serve
1.Prepare the bacon: Remove the rind. Cut the bacon into lardons (Sticks, ¼ inch thick and ½ inch (5 mm x 15 mm) long) and simmer everything in 4 cups (1 litre) of water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry carefully with paper towels.
2.Dry the meat cubes carefully with paper towels.
3.Preheat oven to hot 450ºF/230ºC/gas mark 8
4.In a fireproof casserole or a frying pan, sauté the lardons in a tablespoon of olive oil for 2-3 minutes until they’re lightly brown. Remove them to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
5.In the same casserole/pan, sauté the beef until it’s golden brown. Remove it to the side dish where you keep the bacon and set aside.
6.Still in the same casserole/pan, sauté the carrot and the onion.
7.Return the bacon and the beef to the casserole. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, then add the flour and toss.
8.Place the casserole/dish uncovered in the middle position of the oven for 4 minutes. This gives the meat a lovely crust.
9.Remove the casserole/dish from the oven. Stir in the wine, stock, tomato paste, mashed garlic cloves, thyme, bay and the blanched bacon rind.
10.Bring it to simmering point on the stove. Now, if you were using a frying pan, discard it and put the stew in an oven proof dish.
11.Cover the casserole/dish (If your dish doesn't have a lid, use aluminum foil and stretch it to the edges of the dish in order to minimize the loss of juices) and place it low in the oven. Adjust the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly, it has to go on for 3-4 hours.
12.While the stew is cooking, prepare onions and mushrooms. For the onions: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan and sauté the peeled onions until golden brown. Add beef stock until they’re almost covered and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until almost all the liquid disappears and they’re tender but keep their shape. Set aside.
13.Prepare the mushrooms as well: Wash quarter and sauté them in 2 tablespoons butter. Keep on stirring until they’re nicely brown. Set aside.
14.When meat is tender, put the stew into a sieve over a saucepan, wash out the casserole and return the stew to it. Put onions and mushrooms over the meat.
15.Skim the fat off the sauce. Put the saucepan on the stove and simmer it for 2-3 minutes. Skim additional fat if it rises. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. If not, boil it until it thickens. If it’s too thick, stir in some stock or bouillon to make it lighter.
16.Pour the sauce over the stew. Put the casserole on the stove or in the oven and reheat for 2-3 minutes. Serve it in the casserole with some sprigs of fresh parsley. Some goods sides are potatoes, noodles or rice.
Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: You can keep leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you want to freeze it, it lasts up to 3 months.
•This recipe gives its best when prepared in a Dutch oven (Aka cocotte, cast iron casserole, or simply casserole). It’s not mandatory to have one, I know it’s an expensive thing but if you really love to cook, it is an excellent investment. Otherwise, an oven proof dish with a lid, or sealed with aluminum foil, will do the trick.
•I confess sometimes I skip the skimming process. If you don’t use too much oil or butter and you remove all the fat from the meat, it is not mandatory at all (this is just my opinion)
•Some people add, 10 minutes before serving, a couple of spoonfuls of beurre manié (A paste made of 50% flour and 50% butter) in order to thicken the sauce and make it look more brilliant. I don’t add it cause I like the sauce just the way it is, but if you heard about it and want to try, please feel free to do it.
•I know some people hate mushrooms. If this is your case, just don’t add them. And have no sense of guilt at all.